|Official Languages||English, tribal languages|
|Major industry||Mining (iron ore), agriculture and forestry (natural rubber, timber)|
|Population with access to improved water sources||61%|
|Average life expectancy||45 years old|
|Gross National Income (GNI) per capita||USD 140|
|Population living on less than USD 1.25 per day||36%|
|Literacy rate||Males 65%; Females 70%|
Data as of 2007, UNICEF
"Dirty, dirty, dirty." Linda, 15, and Thomas, 14, noted the unsanitary environment in which they lived and decided to photograph it. Having learned that ridding garbage and polluted water could stave off preventable diseases like malaria, they recognized the need to clean up their local community.
Christopher, 11, photographed a slum where people suffered from poverty. He told us, "I want to show the world that our environment is dirty."
At the workshop held in Monrovia, photographer Giacomo led 20 children between ages 9 and 16 through a five-day session as he did in Rwanda. While half the children here lived with their parents and attended school, the remainder came from temporary juvenile centers. The city had no electricity or water supply. Though six years have passed, Monrovia had not recovered from the end of two civil wars that lasted a total 14 years. The wars took about 250,000 lives and forced an estimated 12,000 children to handle weapons, witness brutal acts or otherwise be involved in the conflicts.
The participants in the workshop learned photography techniques and discussed the themes of their shots. One of the themes was malaria, a disease with which 500,000 children under five and 100,000 pregnant women are infected each year. The children decided it was necessary to record why malaria was one of the major killers of children and how the disease could be prevented. "So much could be done. If only we could afford nets, then the mosquitoes wouldn't bite us at night. My younger brother died from malaria. It was too late when we arrived at the clinic."
Maima, 15, photographed many young girls. She started to cry as she talked about one girl who sold toothpaste. "She reminds me of myself. I used to sell bread for my auntie, Often I couldn't sell all the bread and she would beat me,"
The participants of the workshop learned to take a fresh look at their community and to express their observations through photographs. At the same time, they acquired the valuable experience of sharing their issues with many people and having their voices heard. Maima summed up the group's thoughts: "I see things now that I never saw before."
(Implementation of the workshop : 2007)
All images ©UNICEF/G.Pirozzi